Class IX (2011-2012)

10. Erla Sigurdardottir

Sponsor Club: Hafnarfjarðar, Iceland, District 9803

Erla graduated from the University of Iceland in 2002 with a BA in social anthropology. She has also worked and studied in Germany, Switzerland and Greenland. After completing her first degree, she spent six years directing qualitative research projects at Gallup in Iceland. She later worked for the Icelandic International Development Agency (ICEIDA) in Nicaragua, and also worked as an elementary school teacher after earning her master’s degree in education.

Immediately before coming to Brisbane, during her maternity leave with her son, she unleashed her inner art goddess and took up knitting and crocheting. What started as a hobby ended with Erla publishing two best-selling knitting books. Along the way, she also volunteered for Amnesty International in Iceland. Erla travelled to Fiji for her applied field experience term, working with UNICEF’s Pacific office in Suva, accompanied by her family. She worked on monitoring and evaluating projects both in Fiji and in the Solomon Islands, where she also travelled to conduct field interviews and to follow up on UNICEF projects.

Erla also led several workshops for UNICEF staff in both Fiji and the Solomons, as well as for governmental counterparts on qualitative research techniques for evaluation and monitoring. It is fair to say that everyone had a great time in Fiji, where the smiles are bigger and flowers are brighter. Vera, her daughter, age 7, attended school and her husband Viggi enjoyed his role as ´housewife´ and super dad, taking care of Vera and their son Krummi, age 2 while Erla was working and travelling – just as he has done here in Brisbane. After graduation, Erla and her family are returning to Iceland, where Erla has high hopes of contributing to peace from home.

She has a dream to design educational materials for primary schools and high schools on diversity and its importance to peace, as well as children´s novels with morals relating to peace. And, not surprisingly, she is already working on designs to publish her next knitting book, which will also hopefully be a best-seller. For now, she and her family are enjoying this opportunity Rotary has given them to live and learn in beautiful Brisbane.